Mind Your Manners
by Alexandra Benedict

Captain James Hawkins struggled with the cravat, slipping a finger between the stiff linen and his throat. The infernal noose! What he wouldn’t give to be rid of it. But if he ripped the knotted material in public, it would only confirm the haute ton’s suspicion of him: he was a barbarian.

Poor James. An ex-pirate turned gentleman, he’s attempting to make his way through London Society--and failing miserably. His former mistress, Sophia Dawson, isn’t faring much better, as she desperately tries to conceal her sordid past from the critical ton. But the couple share an inborn distaste for rules, a longing for freedom. Soon, old passions rekindle and a battle of wills begins that can end only in utter ruin...or wicked surrender.

Here are a few rules (taken from George Routledge’s THE WELL-BRED PERSON'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE) that James and Sophia mastered (or flouted) in my latest historical romance, THE INFAMOUS ROGUE:

No Slang!

Remember that all "slang" is vulgar. It has become of late unfortunately prevalent, and we know many ladies who pride themselves on the saucy chique with which they adopt certain Americanisms and other cant phrases of the day. Such habits cannot be too severely reprehended. They lower the tone of society and the standard of thought. It is a great mistake to suppose that slang is in any way a substitute for wit.

Are looks important? You bet! (...oops, I just broke Rule One)

Very clever women are too frequently indifferent to the graces of the toilette; and woman who wish to be thought clever affect indifference. In the one case, it is an error and in the other a folly.

Weighty considerations, indeed.

How to eat soup and what to do with a cherry-stone are weighty considerations when taken as the index of social status; and it is not too much to say, that a young woman who elected to take claret with her fish, or ate peas with her knife, would justly risk the punishment of being banished from good society.

The words “Honour and Obey”

...must also be distinctly spoken by the bride. They constitute an essential part of the obligation and contract of matrimony on her part.

The proper way (for an eager new husband) to depart for the honeymoon:

The young bride, divested of her bridal attire, and quietly costumed for the journey, now bids farewell to her bridesmaids and lady friends. A few tears spring into her gentle eyes, as she takes a last look at the home she is now leaving. The servants venture to crowd about her with their humble but heartfelt congratulations; finally, she falls weeping on her mother’s bosom.

A short cough is heard, as of someone summoning up resolution to hide emotion. It is her father. He dares not trust his voice; but holds out his hand, gives her an affectionate kiss, and then leads her, half turning back, down the stairs and through the hall, to the door, where he delivers her as a precious charge to her husband, who hands her quickly into the carriage, springs in after her, waves his hand to the party who appear crowding at the window, half smiles at the throng about the door, then, amidst a shower of old slippers--missiles of good-luck sent flying after the happy pair--gives the word, and they are off, and started on the long-hoped for voyage!

All right, it’s time to confess: Have you ever committed a faux pas? Witnessed one? Do tell!


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